New Useless Machine Does The Twist

Useless machines might not do any work or produce anything of value on their own, but they can be a great learning tool, and are often beautifully crafted as an expression of the builder’s artistic talents. By and large, they consist of a switch to turn the machine on, and an arm that switches the machine back off in response to this. Vladimir had a different take, and built this twisting vase useless machine instead.

The build references the twisting vases we saw recently – [Vladimir] loved the way they so elegantly opened and closed, and decided to base the build around that. The useless part of the machine is the lifting mechanism – a servo turns a pulley, which uses a magnet on a rope to lift the vase. Upon reaching a certain point, the vase drops, and the magnet is once again lowered to lift it back up again.

The first prototype used a simple delay-based timing loop to determine when to drop the magnet again, however over time this would fall out of sync with the vase’s position and the magnet would fail to attach to the vase. For the second version, [Vladimir] improved things by using a limit switch to determine the position of the vase instead of running on timing alone. The machine’s frame was also rebuilt using copper pipe, which allowed the wires and servo to be hidden from sight. The second revision of the project shows the difference polish can make – differences like these make the machine more suitable for display as a curio in a stylish home setting, rather then a messy project that lives on the workbench only.

Be sure to check out the video of the project below the break. For a simpler useless machine, check out this build. 
Continue reading “New Useless Machine Does The Twist”

Oddly Satisfying – Twist Containers

One of the great strengths of 3D printing is that it makes creating objects with certain geometries much easier than it would be with traditional subtractive machining methods. Things like thin-walled perfect spheres or objects with wild undercuts become trivial to make. A great case in point is these amazing 3D-printed twist vases.

The key concept behind the vases is that the shape of the container itself is the thread that binds the two halves together. [Devin] has built plenty over the years, continually experimenting with the design, making everything from a useful compact trash container to heavily-twisted, more artistic pieces. [Devin] says they’re incredibly satisfying to play with, and we’re inclined to agree – it’s particularly great to watch the higher-tolerance printed vases twist themselves closed under gravity.

Such designs aren’t actually all that new – there’s similar models on Thingiverse stretching all the way back to 2009. The great thing about the Internet as an ecosystem is that not only do many people often reinvent the same idea, they each give it their own unique twist (pun unintended). Continue reading “Oddly Satisfying – Twist Containers”

A Vase of Ice and Fire

When we first saw [Ginko Balboa]’s vase of ice and fire, we weren’t that impressed. Until we realized that the whole vase was a glass, copper, and solder circuit with LEDs sandwiched in between. The tutorial starts with [Ginko]’s technique for etching a custom board for the base circuit. It gets interesting with the construction of the LED circuit.

First a glass bottle was scored in a pattern and shattered, leaving a jigsaw puzzle. Two differently colored LED light strips were desoldered. Then, from the bottom up, the glass was taped around with an adhesive backed copper tape, and soldered together. Every now and then an LED was soldered between the carefully separated areas of the circuit. Some LEDs were soldered in one way, and some the other. This way the vase could be rotated on its base to select a different color. Once the outside of the vase with the LED circuit inside it was finished, another cut bottle was put in the center and soldered in a final position, making the assembly waterproof.

The final product is really interesting, and we’re scratching our head to figure out if there’s anything else this technique of circuit building could be used for. Ideas?